Conflict of Interest
At the core of ethics in professions is the ability to cope with conflict of interest situations. The professional has a primary duty to look after the interest of the client, and a secondary duty to serve his or her personal interests. The client is normally not in a position to evaluate the quality of the service on offer. Due to the knowledge gap, a lawyer, accountant, consultant, doctor, or teacher can be in a position to give priority to self-interest over the interest of the person who receives the services, without detection. Some professions operate with more or less explicit pledges to the clients not to do exploit their advantage in knowledge: “Trust me; although my own self-interest might dictate other actions, I undertake to serve in your best interest.” A conflict of interest situation is different from a real moral dilemma in that it does not constitute a choice between moral values that are on more or less the same equal footing, but are instead false dilemmas, in the sense of being temptations to choose the morally wrong option at the expense of the morally right one.
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